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22 dead in MP floods, state has just three forecasting stations

Nihar Gokhale | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

About 22 people are dead in Madhya Pradesh due to the floods that hit the state a couple of days ago. Over 15,000 people are living in government shelters while several thousands more are feared to have been displaced.

Many of these lives could have been saved - the central government has just three flood forecast centres to cover the whole state. Even though MP is the second largest in area, it is 24th for the number of forecasting stations.

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Uttar Pradesh has the highest - 35 - followed by Bihar (32), Assam (24), and Andhra Pradesh (24). Only five states have lesser forecasting stations than MP - Delhi and Tripura (two each), and Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (one each).

All the 175 flood forecasting stations in the country are managed by the Central Water Commission (CWC). During the monsoons, it gathers hourly data from these stations, which is updated on the internet. As per its standard operating procedure, every morning at 10 am, the system sends e-mail and SMS alerts to relevant state government officials.

With such information, local administration has an opportunity to prepare for floods, reducing the likelihood of casualties and damage to property.

The situation in MP

In Madhya Pradesh, the stations are situated in Hoshangabad, Mandla and Mandsaur districts.

While the former two are on the Narmada river, the third is situated on a dam on the Chambal river.

Of the three stations, only two directly monitor rivers (both on Narmada), while the third is indirect: it measures the inflow of water into the Gandhi Sagar dam, built in the Chambal river basin.

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While the three stations cover two rivers, the seven other major rivers in the state do not have these.

Of these Tapti, Shipra and Kewai are either in spate or overflowing in the current floods, according to media reports.

It also turns out that the deaths have not occurred in the districts where the stations are situted.

According to a PTI report, deaths have occurred in:

- Bhopal and Jabalpur: Five people each

- Vidisha: Three people.

- Raisen, Rewa, Sagar, Mandla, Tikamgarh, Seoni, Damoh, Sehore and Agar-Malwa: One person each

By forecasting these floods in advance, damages to life and property, can be minimised. These are part of the CWC's National Flood Forecasting Network. Whenever the water level crosses a certain limit, a wireless system sends warning to control centres.

"Definitely there is a need to increase forecasting stations. It is the Central Water Commission's decision to. My suggestion is that in the next year they should prioritise set up forecasting stations where the floods occurred recently," said Dr Rakesh Dubey, director of the Disaster Management Institute, Bhopal, run by the Government of Madhya Pradesh.

"We are gradually expanding the network. If our network is expanded, then certainly that would be beneficial. Our target is to cover as much area as possible," said a senior official in the flood forecasting directorate, Central Water Commission.

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First published: 13 July 2016, 9:50 IST
Nihar Gokhale @nihargokhale

Nihar is a reporter with Catch, writing about the environment, water, and other public policy matters. He wrote about stock markets for a business daily before pursuing an interdisciplinary Master's degree in environmental and ecological economics. He likes listening to classical, folk and jazz music and dreams of learning to play the saxophone.